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Every one of us has a side of us that is dark. Some of us hide this side of ourselves or keep it under control, while others use their dark side to manipulate and use others.

While dark psychology is not a medical term, it is recognized in the medical community. For example. Michael Nuccitelli, Psy. D has spoken extensively on this topic. According to him, “Dark Psychology is both a human consciousness construct and study of the human condition as it relates to the psychological nature of people to prey upon others motivated by psychopathic, deviant or psychopathological criminal drives that lack purpose and general assumptions of instinctual drives, evolutionary biology, and social sciences theory. All of humanity has the potential to victimize humans and other living creatures. While many restrain or sublimate this tendency, some act upon these impulses. Dark Psychology explores criminal, deviant, and cybercriminal minds.”

Manipulators tend to use dark strategies to get what they want. Here are 9 of their most common tactics.

1. They cater to your sympathy.

Manipulators and dark individuals know how to appeal to people’s emotions. Sympathy is one of their favorite ways to con people because they know that most people feel a duty to take care of others. This is why con artists and abusive narcissists tend to make themselves look as though they are weak and vulnerable.

2. They use your vanity against you.

Dark people are intelligent, in the fact that they know that most people do have a vain side. They know that we all have a weak spot in which we like to be recognized or understood. Unfortunately, they use this against you.

3. They will go to great lengths to take advantage of you.

People with dark psychological traits aren’t afraid to do whatever it takes to get what they want. They will lie, cheat, steal, and manipulate their way through any situation and try to make themselves look good while doing it.

4. They gaslight.

Someone who has dark psychological makeup will have no trouble gaslighting someone else. Gaslighting is what happens when someone tries to make you doubt your perceptions, so much so that their ultimate goal is to make you feel crazy.

5. They appeal to your dark side.

As I said, everyone has a dark side and people with a dark psychological makeup understand this. Deep down, they think everyone is just like them. Their ultimate goal is to figure out their dark side and slowly make it come out.

6. They target the vulnerable.

Dark individuals tend to target the vulnerable. Think about internet scammers: they tend to prey on the elderly or people who may not have their full wits about them because they are easier to manipulate or con.

7. They blackmail.

A manipulator will blackmail you without blinking an eye. Manipulators tend to gain the trust of others and take note of their secrets. Then, later, they will threaten to expose you unless you do exactly what you want.

8. They distort.

Manipulators tend to distort the truth. They will tell you their version of reality with a straight face, and in many cases, they truly can make themselves believe their distorted version of reality.

9. They use your fears against you.

Manipulators look for your worst fears and insecurities, and then they wait. They will wait for the right moment and then, they will prey on you, just like a predator.